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Winfield loss to Piedmont ends season at 6-5

PIEDMONT | The Winfield Pirates came prepared to play at Piedmont's Field of Champions in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs Friday. But a 28-point third quarter spelled doom for the Pirates in a 38-0 loss that ended their season at 6-5.

"We had chances early," Winfield coach David McKinney said. "We've been struggling offensively the past couple of weeks, and we just needed something on the board to get our guys happy about, but our kids didn't quit. I was proud of that."

Piedmont (10-1) advances to next week's second round, where they will have a rematch on the road with Deshler, a 54-14 winner over New Hope.

But before that rematch was set, Bulldog head coach Steve Smith had to solve the Winfield riddle.

"Winfield had some good schemes in the first half," Smith said. "They did some things that kind of confused us a little bit and got us on our heels.

"Offensively, we weren't very sharp. We had some negative plays, but I thought our defense played real well. We were playing a little short-handed tonight. We had a couple of starters who weren't playing, and it forced us to move some people around. Then we had a run of sickness this week. We had one with pneumonia and a couple with the flu. We tried to spot-play those guys and get them in there. We probably didn't do a very good job of getting them into a position to be successful the first half, but the second half we went back and said ‘We're going to do this, this and this.' The kids responded really well in the third quarter. We hit a couple of big plays and had a couple of touchdown passes. That's part of what we're used to doing."

After a scoreless first quarter, Piedmont managed to drive inside the Pirate 20 but had to settle for Easton Kirk's 32-yard field goal. With 11:54 left before halftime, the Bulldogs were up 3-0.

On the ensuing drive, Winfield put together its most substantial drive of the game. The Pirates marched 41 yards in 11 plays down to the Piedmont 23, but the Bulldog defense stiffened and forced a 39-yard field goal by Jacob Elkins. Elkins' kick fell short as Piedmont held onto its 3-point lead.

The Bulldogs managed to score the game's first touchdown with 3:51 remaining before halftime. On fourth-and-goal from the Pirate 2-yard line, Xavyer Jackson lined up at fullback and barreled his way into the end zone. Kirk's extra point made it 10-0 Bulldogs.

After a Winfield three-and-out, the Bulldogs got the ball near midfield and drove down inside the Pirate 25. However, the Pirate defense managed to put pressure on Piedmont, forcing a sack on second down and an interception by Xavier McCollum as time expired in the first half.

The Bulldogs exploded on offense in the second half, beginning with their first offensive series. It took two plays for them to score, with the dagger being a 72-yard bomb by quarterback Tyler Lusk to C.J. Savage for a touchdown. Kirk's extra point made it 17-0 Bulldogs, and the rout was on.

After another Winfield punt, Piedmont drove 75 yards in five plays, capped off by another Lusk-to-Savage touchdown. This one covered 14 yards, and it put Piedmont in front 24-0.

Ty Sparks added to Piedmont's lead with 2:35 left in the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown toss to Cody Daughtry, increasing the Bulldog lead to 31-0.

Denard Spears added a 63-yard touchdown run with 17.1 seconds left in the third for the final score.

"One of our goals was to get to the playoffs, but we don't want to be one and done," McKinney said. "Some guys grew up this year. Some guys got better. I'm proud of our seniors. We're going to be better next year, hopefully. We're going to go to work on Monday for next year."